Yesterday some well-intentioned soul — or, alternatively, some desperate person who still had a huge amount of leftover trick or treating fare and wanted to finally and conclusively get it out of their house before Thanksgiving — left a bulging, quart-sized bag of various candies by our fifth-floor coffee station.
As expected, the bag quickly looked like it had been attacked by a passing plague of locusts, and it went from packed to picked over in the blink of an eye. But as I passed by on multiple occasions to and from my secretary’s office during the day, I realized the bag also was providing a practical experiment in fifth floor candy preferences.
The mini Snickers and Milky Ways and other interesting chocolate candies were the first to go, followed by mundane Three Musketeers bars. By the end of the day, all of the chocolate candies were gone, but the Skittles and other fruit-flavored options remained. Colorfully packaged, perhaps, but clearly not the preferred route until no other option was left for colleagues desperate for their sugar fix.
Chocolate candies 1, fruit-flavored candies 0, and Three Musketeers somewhere in between. Useful information to keep in mind the next time you’re buying Halloween candy.
I’m on the road today, heading to meetings in the Great White North. Even if I didn’t know I was in Canada, though, I’d still be able to make a pretty good educated guess about my location based on this shelf in the airport convenience store.
Notice a theme here? It’s all things maple — but does anybody really want maple-flavored caramels?
How does a strawberry maple Kit Kat sound to you? Or a wasabi Kit Kat? Or a “butter” Kit Kat? (Admittedly, I don’t have a sweet tooth, and I don’t care for Kit Kats, but I have to say that the last one sounds especially disgusting.)
All of those unusual flavors — and many, many more — are variations of Kit Kat that are available in Japan. In that land across the Pacific, Kit Kat is one of the most popular candy bars around. There are about 300 different varieties of the venerable wafer and chocolate bar that you’re supposed to snap apart and share with your friend, and each has its own brightly colored wrapper. New flavors — like the single stick, dark chocolate, coated in gold leaf Kit Kat that was sold for a short time last December — are developed all the time, too. Even more strikingly, every region of Japan has its own special flavor of Kit Kat that is sold only in that region.
Why is Kit Kat so popular in Japan? Well, it’s undoubtedly a classic candy bar, but a lot of the popularity has to do with the name. Kit Kat sounds a lot like kitto katsu, which is Japanese for “surely win” — an expression of good luck. When Japanese schoolchildren are getting ready to take their tough, make-or-break college entrance exams, they can expect to get a supply of Kit Kats as exercises in positive thinking from their family and friends.
But purple sweet potato Kit Kats? I guess it’s the thought that counts.
Today Kish is going to travel north for a short visit with Russell, and she’s bringing along a care package of sorts: a box filled with some vintage candies and a bag of peanut-butter-and-chocolate buckeyes. It’s the kind of gift that helps to warm a cold winter’s day.
Our rental is located near the Schmidt’s Fudge Haus, which not only offers fresh handmade fudge but also has a ridiculous selection of vintage candies that you probably haven’t seen recently: Necco Wafers, Bonamo’s Turkish Taffy, Mary Janes, Chuckles, candy cigarettes, yellow gum cigars, Teaberry gum . . . the list goes on and on. As you walk down the aisle of goodies, looking at candies you haven’t thought of in years, it calls back fresh memories of childhood and strong recollections of precisely how those candies felt and tasted. Who doesn’t remember the dusty, chalky feel of candy cigarettes and their brittle, sugary crunchiness? (Not that I am suggesting that you’d want to give them to a young child these days, but things were different back in my smoke-filled childhood.)
I’m guessing that Russell will enjoy dipping into this candy care package.
Yesterday Kish and I had a fine day at our new digs in German Village. We took some nice walks through the neighborhood and Schiller Park, enjoyed looking at the old homes, discovered a store that sells vintage candy (including Bonamo’s Turkish Taffy, the Great White Whale of hard-to-find candy of yesteryear), and experienced first-hand the straight shot five-minute “commute” to my office.
We had lunch at the Olde Mohawk, a comfortable former speakeasy turned neighborhood joint that I’d never eaten at before. As Kish and I chatted and I was enjoying a very tasty Great Lakes Brewery seasonal Christmas ale and a juicy cheeseburger at the Mohawk, I was brimming with enthusiasm for our new adventure.
This display of boosterism made Kish smile, because it is a familiar trait. When I quit smoking once and for all more than 20 years ago I promptly began raving about how great it was to be smoke-free and how I couldn’t believe that I — or anyone else for that matter — ever smoked in the first place. When we go on trips overseas I wax rhapsodic about the interesting culture, architecture, and food. When Richard and Russell started at their various institutes of higher learning I praised the almost tangible sense of scholarly purpose those academic bastions exuded.
In short, I tend to approach most ventures — that is, those not involving being a sports sports — with wide-eyed enthusiasm. Why not? There’s time enough for brutal reality to intrude and temper perceptions, but if you can’t be enthusiastic at the outset you’re missing out on part of the fun.
We bought too much candy for the wet and rainy Beggars’ Night in New Albany. Or, more precisely, we bought too much of the wrong candy — namely, Starburst.
On Beggars’ Night, we had our customary basket of multiple candy options to offer trick-or-treaters. Only the youngest and most inexperienced ghosts and goblins grabbed Starbursts. Every other Halloweener dug furiously through the contents of the basket, like a dog clawing the ground to uncover a bone, in a desperate attempt to find Butterfingers, Reese’s minis, or even Skittles. When the last trick-or-treater had rung the doorbell, taken a sad look at what was left in the basket, and departed with a painful sigh, we were left with enough Starbursts to float a small battleship.
We didn’t want them around the house, obviously. No problem! I thought. I’ll just take them to the office, plop them next to the coffee station on our floor, and the perpetually hungry denizens of the fifth floor would feel the urge of their sweet tooth and consume all of the candy in the blink of an eye. Donuts, other baked goods, and anything with chocolate have been known to disappear faster than the speed of light, and occasionally there are tense standoffs as secretaries, paralegals, and attorneys eye the last brownie or piece of birthday cake. So I put the Starburst in a bag, took it to work, and left it to be rapidly consumed.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I found this half-full bag of Starburst when I was leaving for the day at 6 p.m. tonight. It is an unheard-of development that speaks volumes about the quality of the candy. So I decided to conduct the crucial acid test and leave the bag for the overnight cleaning crew to enjoy. If any Starburst are left tomorrow morning, it can only mean one thing: Starburst candy truly sucks.
It’s a windy, rainy Beggars’ Night tonight — which makes it very difficult to keep our jack o’ lanterns lit. Although the weather isn’t ideal, we’ve had a decent number of trick or treaters this year — but out of an abundance of caution and a fear that we’re going to be stuck with gobs of leftover candy, we’ve also moved to the “take a handful” approach earlier than normal this year.